Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Simplifying Christmas

I just came across a great blog post about preparing for the holidays. It really focuses in on why we need to simplify during Christmas. Great post, great read... Check it out!

Planning Ahead for a Worshipful Christmas

This problem is not Too Big for our generation!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Parking Near Cart Returns Works for Me

Quick and Easy tip for the Day:

When going to the supermarket, I used to look for the closest parking spot to the store. And that worked for me. Quick in and out trip to the store.

Until I had kids.

Now, with 2 kids, I look for the closest parking spot to a cart return. This has made my life so much easier. Right next to a return, I can plop my kids and purse straight into a car without trying to navigate the parking lot. And with a 1 1/2 and almost 4 year old, navigating a supermarket parking lot is more like playing dodge ball with cars.

And when I'm done and loading my car, the kids can be loaded into the car, buckled in, and right next to me as I return the cart.

This little tip... definately Works for Me.

For more Work for Me posts, check out We Are THAT Family.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

Wow! Time flies! I'm planning a 4th Birthday Party for Big Boy and I can't believe he's growing so quickly. He's at a great age. All the time he's coming up with new, witty things. Right now he says, "Mommy do you know how much I love you?" Then he opens his arms wide and says, "This much!" I could go on and on with all the new things he's doing.

But time is flying and I finally got invitations done and mailed this week. I wish I had a picture to show you. They turned out so cute. We're doing a monkey party (Curious George) so I dressed Big Boy up in last year's Halloween costume and boosted him into Grandma's walnut tree. We took a couple of pictures, picked out my favorite and ordered several copies when Walgreen's had a coupon code.

I took a 12" x 12" sheet of brown card stock and cut it into (2) 5 3/4" x 12" strips. My envelopes were 5 3/4" wide so that's why I chose that size. I folded the stop in half. I then matted the photo and the saying ("Curious why _____is in a tree?") with green card stock and adhered them to the front. Big Boy added a monkey sticker to the front as well and I adhered a white piece of paper inside with the party details.

These invitations were slightly cheaper than store bought, but keep in mind, they were also custom made with his photo. I could have made cheaper as well if I'd bought the card stock the week before while it was on sale, but it kept slipping my mind.

So that was my big project for the week. I just mailed the last one yesterday as my brother-in-law and his wife just moved and we were waiting on their new address. I'm glad to have them done and am looking forward to working more on this party. I'll try to post a picture of the invitation when I post more party details.

Here are a few other links to projects I was working on last week: Canned Applesauce, Canned Cranberry Applesauce, and Canned Apple Butter.

Here's also a link to a printed Curious George invitation. Very Cute!

For more Tackle Tuesday posts, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Menu Monday 9/28-10/3

October??? Really???


Oh, well. No use in complaining about it. This year just went by too fast. I can't seem to catch my breath. I'm not really for the year to end. Especially the second half has been quite a ride and I've been enjoying it. Better just hang on for the rest of it.

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: leftover Three Cheese Baked Spaghetti
Dinner: Tomato Soup and Tuna Sandwiches

Breakfast: Eggs and Biscuits
Lunch: Salad and Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Dinner: Potato Bar with BBQ Pork

Breakfast: One Pan Pumpkin Bread
Dinner: Split Pea Soup

Breakfast: Oatmeal and fruit
Lunch: Salad and sammies
Dinner: Brown Rice and Black Bean Casserole

Breakfast: Monkey Bread
Lunch: leftover Brown Rice and Black Bean Casserole
Dinner: Vietnamese Fried Rice, homemade wontons

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Veggie Quesadillas and salad
Dinner: Homemade Veggie Pizza

Breakfast: Pumpkin Bread
Lunch: ??? not sure??? something I can put in the crockpot during church
Dinner: Lentils and Naan

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Super Easy Bean Dip

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Link Love

This Paper Doll Birthday Party would be so sweet for a 6 or 7 year old (@ Whimsy love).

Looks like these Boston Cream Cupcakes will quickly be moving to the top of my "To Bake" list (@ Chocolate on my Cranium).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Canned Apple Butter

Ok, so I'm finally coming to the end of my apples. I talked to my mom tonight and she asked if I wanted more. I just laughed at her.

Then I promptly called her back 5 minutes later and said, "Yes, please."

You see I'm too practical to let it go by. And although I'm in the middle of planning a 4 year old birthday party and a women's retreat on back to back weekends, I can't let apples go to waste. And I can't pass up "putting up" more treasures for my family.

In case you missed what I've been up to the past couple of weeks, be sure to check out Homemade Canned Applesauce and Homemade Canned Cranberry Applesauce. Both of those posts not only have great recipes, but also further tips and tricks for making sure your canning is successful.

The last of my apples went into Canned Apple Butter. This was the end of my stockpile and I really wasn't paying attention. Learn from my mistake. There's no shortcutting this recipe. Follow it carefully or you'll be in the kitchen a lot longer than you'd like to be.

Canned Apple Butter
1 gallon Apple Cider
4 gallons apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
cinnamon to taste
optional: additional nutmeg, cloves, allspice

1. Boil 1 gallon apple cider down to 1/2 gallon. Do not skip this step. That was my mistake and then it took forever for the butter to cook down. Yes, this will take some time, but it will take longer if you add the apples right away.

2. Peel, core and chunk or slice apples. Try to get all the peel. It will change the flavor of the butter and cause it to bitter.

3. Add 2 gallons of apple pieces. Stir frequently.

4. Add rest of apples after first half softens. Continue to stir and simmer slowly.

5. Mash the apples with a potato masher as you go along. You want your butter to be very smooth and very thick. You could also try a submersible wand blender, but I was too chicken since the liquid is so hot.

6. Your apple butter is cooked completely when more the liquid is gone.

7. Fill your sink with hot water. Fill jars with hot water to the rim and add flats to the sink as well.

8. Fill jars with hot butter to the rim, wipe the top with a towel, and add the flat and ring. Tighten down and return to hot water bath. DO NOT TIGHTEN RING AFTER IT SEALS. This will break your seal.

You can add spices to taste as you cook it down, but I found mine was perfect with just the apple cider.
This recipe yields approximately 8 pint jars.

My kids love this stuff on their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I can hardly keep it in the house. And Apple Butter in the store is SOOOO expensive.

We also like to eat it on waffles, pancakes, and baked goods. I think the stuff is wonderful. I was so excited when I found I could make it myself instead of buy it. It's really quite simple and great way to finish up canning season.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Canned Cranberry Applesauce

On the heels of yesterday's post about Canning Homemade Applesauce, I thought I'd share with you my Cranberry Applesauce recipe.

I love the tartness of the berries, but can't stand the glob that is Canned Cranberry Sauce. That stuff is unrecognizable. It's too sweet (I call that the taste of sugar) and is just... there's truly no other word for it than gross. Needless to say, I really, really, really don't like it.

So I'm slowly indoctrinating everyone I know into this Homemade Cranberry Applesauce. It's super easy and so good. The cranberries retain their tartness, the apples add body to the mix, and the whole thing is light-years beyond what you can buy at the store.

Same tools as the applesauce:
6-8 apples (this is what the original recipe says, but if they're small, go for 10-12)
1 bag of cranberries (I buy these in season then keep them in the freezer to cook all year round)
1 c. sugar
1-2 c. water

1. Peel and core apples. You can slice them as well to help them cook down faster. Start with 1 c. water and add just enough water for apples to cook down.

2. Cook apples until not quite done. This won't take long. Approx. 45 min. Remember to cook not too hot and keep checking them so they don't stick and burn.

3. Add cranberries and sugar. Cook until cranberries "pop" and apples are done. Add sugar to taste (but I like just one cup).

4. As apples are cooking, fill your sink with hot water and jars. The jars should be filled with hot water to the rings as well to prepare them for sealing. Put jar flats in the hot water as well.

5. Fill clean jars with hot cranberry sauce. Place flat and rings on and tighten. Sit in hot water till they seal.

One last word of warning:
Tighten the rings on the jar after you fill it, but don't try to tighten it after it seals. Even if it feels loose. This will break the seal.

The last time I made this, I got 4 wide mouth pint jars out of a single batch.

I hope you love this as much as I do. It's one of those small things that makes it feel like fall around here.

This is also a great option for a loved ones Christmas gift. It's easy, homemade, and personal. I haven't done it yet, but have thought in the past it would be a neat idea to get one of those 4 pack cup holders from a fast food restaurant. Decorate it. And fill all four slots with a different treat from my kitchen. Blackberry jam, Cranberry applesauce, a jarred cookie mix, maybe some homemade salsa. No one in my husband's family does any canning and it would make a fun, relational gift to go along with Advent Conspiracy.

This post is linked to Ultimate Recipe Swap: Favorite Fall Foods at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Homemade Canned Applesauce

This post was originally published last fall. But here I am again, canning apples and realizing how thankful I am for such a healthy, frugal part of my kitchen. I hope you enjoy...

Picking apples is one of my favorite fall memories and I'm amazed at how easy they are to can. My mom was always canning as I was growing up and encouraging me to get involved. But I was young and too busy. However as I've gown, I've gotten more and more excited about learning new things in the kitchen, learning new ways to improve on the old ways of getting by, and that has extended into canning. Now that I've done it a few times on my own, I'm beginning to feel better and better about my capabilities. As I canned applesauce these past couple of weeks, I started considering how much money I've been able to save with 2 children in the house and how nutritious this applesauce really is. So what I've learned from my mother, I pass on to you. And may you build sweet memories with these tips as well.

Gather your tools:
6-8 apples per batch
1/2 c. apple cider (you may substitute water seasoned with cinnamon and sugar)
kitchen towel
measuring cup for scooping into jars
peeling tools (I used my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer)
large pot
canning jars, flats, and rings

Start by peeling, coring and possibly slicing your apples. Although the slicing is not entirely necessary, it will help them cook down faster, thus saving you some time. If you are unable to get all the peel, don't worry. This can be solved by pushing your applesauce through a sieve at the end, or small bits can be left in as they will not interfere with the taste. I used my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer. It made my job of dealing with these apples so much easier. I was able to work a lot quicker and get it on the stove while the kids were napping.

Place 6-8 apples in a large pot and add 1/2 cup of apple cider and allow to cook down. If you have a HOT pot and burner this will take approximately 45 min. If this is your first batch of the day, it will take closer to 1 hr.

As your apples cook down, continue to taste them and season as desired. Add more sugar, cider or cinnamon. Because of the cider that we chose, I didn't have to add anything, but you may season to your taste. The apples will be ready when they have cooked down enough to mash them.

You can blend your applesauce in several ways depending on the type of texture you prefer. I chose to simply mash mine with a potato masher. Other ways of blending your applesauce include: an immersible blender, a traditional blender, or pushing it through a sieve. Each level of blending will provide you with a smoother texture and the sieve will remove smaller bits of peeling.

As your apples are cooking, you can begin to prepare your jars. I chose pint jars although if you have several small children, you may choose quart jars as applesauce may be eaten in larger batches Fill your sink with hot water, filling each jar as well and sitting them in the hot water bath. Toss the jar flats as well, but the rings do not need to be heated. Jars and flats will need to sit in this hot water bath for at least 10 minutes.

When your apples are ready to be poured into jars, a few tools will make this process easier. Gather a funnel, measuring cup to scoop the sauce, and a clean kitchen towel. Keep your jars, flats, and rings handy as well. Place the funnel on top of the jar and funnel in the sauce dipping with the measuring cup. Push the sauce down into the jar to make sure you get a full jar.

Leave approximately 1 inch of space at the top of the jar. I measure this by where the rings start at the top of the jar. Wipe the top of the jar with your dish towel, removing bits of sauce and water from the sink. Place the flat on the jar and tighten down the ring. Be careful not to over tighten the ring or tighten it down after the jar has sealed. This may break your seal.

After filling the jar, place it back into the hot water bath to seal. You will hear a high pitched "ping" as each jar seals. You can test your jars later by pushing down in the center of the flat. If the flat stays down, it is sealed. If it pops back up the jar didn't seal and you must refrigerate and use that jar first.

Finally, sit your jars out on the counter for all to admire and your husband to ooh and aahh over how you've slaved all day. Applesauce should keep for quite some time in your pantry.

This specific batch came out very light in color. I attributed that to the fact that I got the apples cooking so quickly on the stove. However, as you're peeling apples, they will often brown when exposed to the air. Most homemade applesauce comes out darker in color and you will find that often recipes tell you to cook your apples till they are dark. This is usually my experience, but this batch just came out lighter. Just make sure the apples are thoroughly cooked before canning.

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We Are THAT Family.

This post is also linked to Fall Festival on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

It's fall! Yeah! It's so funny 'cause I live in a very hot part of Northern California. And this week we're resting in the triple digits. Yes, folks, first day of fall and we're in a heat wave. But you know what, I'm pushing through. We ARE going to have fall, even if I have to have it by myself. So I'm dreaming and coming up with my fall to-do list. Here's what we have coming up in the next couple of months:

1. Canning Applesauce, Cranberry Applesauce, and Apple Butter: Just finished this today. I'm exhausted, but I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from "putting up" food that will help sustain my family in the coming year. Look for recipes and directions in the coming days.

2. Taking the kids to the indoor pool at least once a week: We have a great gym that offers an indoor pool. It's a great way to spend an evening and keep the kids growing in their swimming skills. And we love it.

3. Celebrate Big Boy's 4th Birthday: I can't believe I'm going to have a 4 year old! We've got a great monkey party planned. Stay tuned for further details.

4. Go to the Pumpkin Patch and carve pumpkins: We usually do this the weekend of Big Boy's birthday. I love going to the pumpkin patch and seeing the kids enjoy all the things to do. They have such a great time there and I love showing them what it looks like to picking produce from a garden.

5. Put on a great Women's Retreat: This is the middle of October and gonna be a good one.

6. Celebrate turning 30: when did that happen?

7. Celebrate Thanksgiving: I love Thanksgiving. Who's ready for my pumpkin pie cake recipe?

8. Host some kind of Holiday Open House: Whether we do an open house, an evening in Avonlea, or a girl's night out, I want to celebrate with some friends. Probably at the end of November.

9. Go to the Christmas Light Parade: We pack up the kids and a picnic dinner ever year. Very cold, but very fun.

And I'm sure we'll be even busier than that. But I can't wait. Break out the pumpkin and welcome fall.

This post is linked to:
Tackle it Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom
Falling for Fun at Daily Dwelling

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Menu Monday 9/21-9/27

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Sammies and salad
Dinner: Pulled Pork Sandwiches and sauteed zucchini

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Veggie Soup, fruit
Dinner: Lentil Tacos

Breakfast: Biscuits and fruit
Lunch: Leftover Lentil Tacos
Dinner: Potato Bar

Breakfast: Cranberry apple muffins
Lunch: Sammies and salad
Dinner: Tattertot Surprise

Breakfast: Cranberry Apple Muffins
Lunch: Sammies and salad
Dinner: Taco Salad

Breakfast: Fruit and yogurt
Lunch: Vegetarian Quesadillas
Dinner: Three Cheese Spaghetti

Breakfast: Eggs, hashbrowns, yogurt
Lunch: Easy Thai Chicken Wraps
Dinner: Vietnamese Fried Rice, homemade fried wontons

Pumpkin Scones
Homemade Canned Apple Butter
Homemade Canned Cranberry Applesauce

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thinking of Christmas....

So here's a challenge for you. Do you send out Christmas cards? I always do. It's fun for me to think of the loved ones in my life and send them a special little surprise in the mail. I want them to know that I'm thinking about them. That although we're separated by considerable distance, I still really treasure them in my heart and miss them. And every year it's a struggle to think of who's going to make the "cut" and who isn't. I wish I could be one of those gals who sends cards to anyone and everyone I've ever loved. But I can't. Financially and time wise, it's just not possible.

My husband and I have made choices to keep Christmas simple and give to projects that will bless beyond what we can imagine. And that means keeping the Christmas card list simple as well. That why around Sept, I make my initial list of recipients, and then as the months move on, I can watch for specials and even begin to whittle away at the list. From Sept to Nov, I go over my list from time to time and think about those people, slowly decreasing the number of recipients. Yes, it's hard, but it forces me think about who I really want to reconnect with.

And what do we do with the money we save as we simplify Christmas? We support our church's Advent Conspiracy project that changes from year to year. We want to give to projects that will improve lives around the world. Projects like providing water for the world's population. Check this out:

How will you simplify? How will you give?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Visiting My Local Nursery Works for Me

When my husband and I bought our new house, we inherited a fantastic backyard. There's lush green grass, a cute little patio area, a rose garden, and landscaping around the border. It's lightyears beyond what we could have done from scratch. We are blessed. The original owners took incredible care of the house.

So it's been quite intimidating to take on such a project. There are plants back there that I couldn't been begin to identify. And patches of plants, that although manicured, aren't quite what they should be. For instance, we had a daisy patch that wasn't quite cutting it after the late rains this spring.

So my thought for the day is get to know your local nursery. Take pictures of your backyard, watch the patterns of shade and light, take note of growth and fertilizing patterns. Then go to the nursery, ask questions, and take notes. We did this a couple of weeks ago and learned a tremendous amount. The staff there even gave us a welcome packet, detailing the plants that grow best in our area, plus a lot of other information that I'm still going through.

Back to dreaming of loosing my black thumb and developing a green one...

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We are THAT Family.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday...

Every once in awhile, the littlest things get neglected. And then those little things become big things. Like cleaning out the car.

If you're like me, you probably feel like you practically live out of your car. As much as I try to cut back, do less, and stay home more, there always seems to be something demanding my attention. And I do have the best of intentions when it comes to "take in what you took out," but that rarely ever happens. By last week, my CRV was in bad shape and crying out for some attention. Here's what I found:

*a bag of clothes for the kids from Miss Ellie
*2 empty water bottles
*1 empty Coke bottle (hubby's addiction)
*multiple plastic cup lids like you'd get at a coffee place (lord knows where the cups went)
*2 1/2 pairs of Baby Girl's shoes (where's the other shoe? the walmart parking lot?)
*my water bottle
*Big Boy's Lightning McQueen water bottle (no, it's not mine, I swear)
*2 toy cars
*3 board books
*1 pair of Baby Girl's socks (1 pair of socks to 2 1/2 pairs of shoes???)
*notes for retreat planning
*bulletin boarder for the church
*Martha Stewart magazine
*North State Parent magazine
*Parent magazine (Hi, I'm Lee and I'm a magazine addict)
*Our tax return ??????
*Old time card
*Little Mermaid squish ball
*Dentist bill, estimate for next visit, and reminder card (yes, I want to be reminded that my son's teeth are costing me an arm and a leg)
*a stapler
*Old electric bill
*homeschooling notes
*preschool papers
*2 receipts
*an acorn squash????
*multiple hair ties
*2 spoons (huh?)
and finally,...
*material samples for matching binding

Isn't the ridiculous? There's some stuff there that makes me laugh. And that doesn't count the blanket that we borrowed from a friend in July while we were camping and haven't returned, the umbrella stroller that's taken up permanent residence in the car, and the coolant that I still carry just in case I should discover that my engine wants to blow up. Anyone else feel like they live in their car?

For more Tackle it Tuesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Menu Monday 9/14-9/20

Just up late tonight thinking about all the yummy food in my fridge. My mom was here this weekend and we made some delicious treats and ... there's leftovers! So we're feasting again this week. My hubby will be working Monday-Thursday nights, as usual and the kids and I will invent and reinvent leftovers. Then doing some entertaining this weekend. Hope this gives you some ideas.

Breakfast: Donuts (as per Big Boy's request and Grandma's compliance)
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Leftover pasta with added veggies, sauteed zucchini

Breakfast: Oatmeal and fruit
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, fruit and sliced red pepper
Dinner: Leftover BBQ Pork Pizza

Breakfast: Toast and fruit
Lunch: sammies and salad
Dinner: Leftover salmon, zucchini and corn

Breakfast: Fruit and Yogurt
Lunch: Veggie soup, chips and homemade salsa
Dinner: Pesto pasta and eggplant

Breakfast: Eggs and hashbrowns
Lunch: Black bean and rice burritos
Dinner: Leftover steak into fajitas (company dinner)

Breakfast: Gingerbread waffles
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Three Cheese Baked Spaghetti

Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Taco Salad with Pork

For more Menu Monday ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

Check out this list of Gazillion Craft Ideas (@Training Tons of Sons). Great ideas for when we have a little free time. Haha.

I love this Carousel Themed Birthday Party (@ Creative Parties and Showers). I'm bookmarking it for a future Baby Girl party idea.

This Starbucks Coffee Cake ( would be the perfect way to celebrate the changing seasons.

Looking for a deal on Raspberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam (@ Chocolate on my Cranium). We love preserving the flavors of summer and the color is stunning.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Frugal Friday

Quick and easy tip today:

I rarely ever run my dryer since the summers are so hot and long here. But when I do, I never use a whole dryer sheet. Just tear it in two and it works just as well. Double the value of your dryer sheets in no time.

Along the same lines, I also never use a whole SOS pad. I've tried eliminating them entirely in our home, but seem to have a few favorite dishes that demand a little extra scrubbing. I found that when I used a whole pad, it often got yucky and germy before it was used up. Thus I was throwing away money. So I started cutting them in half. This also works great for sharpening my scissors. Just rinse them off and dry them afterwards.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Thoughts of Autumn...

... fresh zucchini and tomatoes from the garden

... baby pumpkins on my dinning room table

... cupcake candle burning in the kitchen

... changing leaves

... fresh baked cookies after school

... cool evenings on the back patio

... flavors of pumpkin and cranberry

... change in the air

You'll find the kids and I in the backyard this afternoon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday...

Sorry no pictures this week. I was going to take some pictures with my video camera and post them, but between getting kids bathed and put to bed, it just got too dark to do it. But ... such is life.

Hubby went into work early this morning and the kids and I spent most of our Labor Day at home. Piddling around the house. I wasn't into shopping and Big Boy had already said he just wanted to stay home and play. The kids played really well together and we built in a few projects into our day. Here's what we got done on a very productive Labor Day:

Ran a load of laundry and hung dried
Make two loaves of homemade bread
Make slushie dessert for freezer
Boiled potatoes (to be shredded for freezer)
Washed a ton of dishes
Planted strawberries
Watered tomatoes next door
Make a fantastic BBQ dinner

Will post my new bread recipe later after we have a chance to really try it out. Fingers crossed.

What are you tackling?

Menu Monday 9/7-9/13

I'm going to take some inspiration from this post and see how well this works in my house. What a great way to make one meal and stretch it through out the week. Has anyone else done something similar to this in the past? I'm just going to make sure we heavily supplement with fruits and vegetables throughout the week. We'll see how it goes.

Oatmeal and fruit
Yogurt and fruit
Scrambled eggs and toast
Gingerbread Waffles

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammies
Veggie Soup
Fresh Fruit
Crackers and hummus

Hamburgers (with grilled onions), Baked Potatoes, Fruit

Pulled Pork in the Crockpot

BBQ Pork Pizza

Pulled Pork Sandwiches


Out with mom

Taco Salad w/ Leftover Pork

For more Menu Monday ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Frugal Friday: Part Two

Guess I have a lot more to say today than usual. Two Frugal Fridays: that doesn't happen very often. Hope you enjoy!

Here's September's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables:


I must confess that when I saw this list, I was disappointed. I miss seeing plums, peaches, nectarines, avocados, all the yummy stuff. But I'm trying to be optimistic...

So here's what I'm seeing in this list:

Pasta with Eggplant-- We made this last week and I even got the kids to eat it.
Tomato Basil Chicken Salad-- Had this again tonight and it's so fresh.
Vegetarian Lasagna--Made this last week as well and the kids still ate it. And my husband and I loved it.
Spinach salad with candied walnuts and strawberries (ok cranberries)
Layered Lettuce Salad
Persimmon Cookies

I'd love to hear any other ideas. I'm a bit stumbled this month and could use some help from all of you. What do you think?

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Frugal Friday

Keep your eyes open for summer clearance items. They're going fast. Just a few rules to make sure this is a frugal exercise and not an unnecessary splurge:
1. Be realistic-- Will you really use the item in the near future? Is it really something that will enhance your ministry to your family and community?
2. Still comparison shop--Stores are clearancing out right now so be aware that there's still competitive pricing. Unless it's the last of something, wait for at least 50% off.
3. Think outside the box--Things that you wouldn't expect to be on clearance will be there. Think holidays and birthdays.
4. Don't pass up a good deal--If it is the last item, pick it up. Don't plan on coming back later to get it.

Here are a few things that we have on our list to be watching for:
Swim Diapers
Swimsuits (we put these in the kids Easter baskets each year)
Garden Hoses
Box fans
Ceiling fans
Seasonal crafting items
Yard tools and maintenance
Bird food
Bubble Machines
Pool Toys and Towels
Some sporting equipment
Some camping equipment
Garden seeds
Sandals and water shoes
Light jackets
Party supplies
Outdoor furniture
Grilling supplies

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Growing your own garlic

Garlic is a true love of ours. Ask my children and they'll tell you, "Mommy puts onions and GARLIC in everything." One of my son's favorite activities is digging out the garlic press and smashing the cloves. We just love it. But I've never tried to grow it. I looked up some resources last fall, but failed to get my garlic in soon enough. So I'm doing a little early research this year and hoping to try it.
Since we're in California, a hot area of California, it will be quite some time before we're able to plant ours. But I thought I'd post this now as to give you all a heads up for wonderful garlic in your own back yard. Now I'm off to plot where this might grow best in my back yard. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, see 5 Minutes for Mom.

Vegetarian Lasagne

As I was preparing for company this past weekend, I opened my refrigerator and thought, "What can I make that's both frugal and nutritious? And company worthy?"

We try to eat lots of fruits and veggies and looking in the fridge I had:
bell pepper

oh, and yummy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.

Thinking quickly we came up with a Vegetarian Lasagne.

1. Chop red bell pepper and zucchini. Shred carrots.
2. Microwave with a little water for two minutes.
3. Toss in spinach.
4. Layer some sauce and then noodles.
5. Follow with a layer of veggies, then a layer of mozzarella.
6. Follow with another set of layers, ending with a third layer of noodles and cheese.
7. Put in a preheated oven set at 350 degrees for 1 hr.

My almost 4 year old and almost 2 year old both loved it. We served it with a spinach salad and grilled cheese bread. Not only was this a great company dish, but also a wonderful way for me to get my kids to eat their veggies. We just stayed moderate with the cheese and we all loved it. I will be serving this again very soon.

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We Are THAT Family.
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